But where’s the Gospel?

Yesterday, whilst reading my Twitter feeds, someone I follow posted this:

Living a life of great faith is not easy. It’s a battle of the mind continually BUT I have to remind myself to trust God and surrender.

I tweeted him back:

Then if faith is a gift from God…sounds like it’s one I’d want to return.

I’m almost certain my reply was sort of out of left field to this guy since I gave it no context. I mean, it’s Twitter and I should’ve kept my big mouth…er typing…shut. Shut? Stopped? Whatever.

The "Good Works" rat wheel.

But it did get me thinking. When I was a Pentecostal, specifically in college, my experience of the Christian life was rather heavy on highs and lows. Sure, Christ died to save me from sin, but now it was time to get my butt in gear and SUBMIT to the Spirit…or else! And faith…well, faith is what *I’m* supposed to have. Just as much as a mustard seed…imagine what God could do if only…I’d… Yeah. So then I feel guilty for long stretches with short bursts of feeling like I can measure up because I’ve really given it over to God this time.

But what did it get me? A rat-wheel of good works that were really just me trusting in my own will-power, even though I called it living in the Spirit.

The saddest part, however, is that a great many Christians I’ve met have this same sort of problem in their thinking about God, His will, and our response. Do I need to surrender? Well…if by “surrender,” we mean the biblical category of “repentance,” then yes. But because surrender isn’t the biblical category, it’s hard to grapple with Paul’s testimony to the life of the uncondemned life because we experience sin day after day, hour after hour. And what are we supposed to do with that sin? Surrender it? It’s hard to know what that looks like, unless we talk about it in terms of repentance.

But even repentance isn’t enough. When we talk about sin and repentance, we have to talk about the forgiveness of sins in Christ. After all, the two are inextricably linked by Jesus in Luke 24:47, and it is in this message of our great sin and our Greater Savior that the real freedom to live a life honoring to God can be found.

Are you tired of one crisis experience after another, and another? Repent, turn to Christ, and trust that Christ’s blood covers you, even the Christian. This is the trust of the Gospel. Repent and truly live. As Rod Rosenbladt has said, “Christ died to save sinners–and you qualify.”

So why are we so hesitant to proclaim this good news? Why are we so reticent to give hope to people that is far more substantial than “come on, you can do it!”? Why do significant sectors of the Church preach the Gospel to convert but not as the hope for all men, even the converted ones? Why is it only assumed and not proclaimed as being the final word?

Reader, now it’s your turn. Am I barking up the wrong tree here?

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4 thoughts on “But where’s the Gospel?

  1. You are barking up the right tree. However I would say that there are a lot of reformed/Lutheran people out there, including myself, that underneath our veneer of gospel satisfaction miss that ‘pentecostal’ feeling we once had. It’s a blessing beyond words to know our sins are forgiven, but am I alone in my often felt desire to ‘sense’ my sins forgiven?

    Certainly we don’t miss the despair of our high and low Christianity, but the highs, as short lived as they were, sure felt good.

    • And I agree…the highs did feel good. Sometimes I don’t sense that my sins are forgiven…and it’s nice when I do.

      • Dave, have you ever read Abolition of Man by CS Lewis? It is a ‘secular’ work addressing the education system, but Lewis does a masterful job of relating the importance of ’emotion’ in education. Essentially he makes a case that the intellect and the instinct by themselves have no value apart from the emotion. He makes the claim that the education system of his day was serving the head (intellect) and the gut (instinct) but was creating “men with out chests (emotion).”

        I sense that those of us with a theology rooted in the reformation have a tendency to put all emotion into the ‘enthusiasm’ category and we quickly try to write of emotion almost to the point of seeing it as a sin. We are doing what Lewis warned the educators of, and creating men without chests.

        Obviously we all would say that the news we take into our intellect, and how it addresses our sinful instinct most certainly should produce an emotion of gratitude, but how often is our gratitude still stuck in our head never giving way to an actual feeling of gratitude? I know I tread on thin ice here, and do not want to give emotion too high of a place, but I fear we give it no place at all.

  2. It seems as though you found the right tree for barking. It’s always struck me as odd that gospel gets lost so easily in the modern church. It’s so much better than works and law. It’s like the Israelites wanting to go back to Egypt. It’s nuts.

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